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AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN “The Dead” Recap

We had a week off of American Horror Story to celebrate Thanskgiving with our loved ones, which was probably appropriate given this isn’t exactly the kind of show that brings families together.  And though I’m far belated for a recap of what happened the week before that, I do my best to be a completionist, so as a warm-up for what is (hopefully) sure to be an exciting episode this week, let’s play a little catch-up.

Honestly this episode was less-than-exciting as far as American Horror Story goes.  Some very intriguing developments had been dangled in front of our eyes in the preceding episode, but little of it really pays off in this episode (where are Misty Day and reanimated Myrtle Snow, or even Nan?).  The characters generally just sit around feeling mopey and having feelings, which is fine, but if I didn’t know any better I might not even be sure this was a horror show.

We open with Kyle rocking out in a tattoo parlor with his frat brothers singing along to Toto’s “Rosanna” (Kyle and I would totally get along) in flashback.  Kyle tells his brothers he doesn’t plan on getting a tattoo, as he has big dreams of becoming an engineer and helping prevent disasters such as Hurricane Katrina from happening; he only has one life, and he doesn’t want to waste it.

We cut back to the present day, where we see that current Franken-Kyle, now chained in the nursery, has the tattoos of his other brothers he was stitched together from.  Zoe approaches him with Madison’s gun, planning to shoot him.  Zoe tries to explain to Kyle why she has to kill him, when suddenly Kyle snatches the gun out of her hands and points it at himself.  Zoe freaks out and wrestles the weapon away, realizing she still cares for him even in his broken half-alive state.

Recently re-animated Madison narrates how empty and apathetic she now feels, and how she’s part of the “millennial” generation.  As a millennial myself I’m really sick of hearing these sorts of debates about whether we’re “entitled” or not, but I will admit the fact that Madison being brought back from the dead is an interesting analogy to teenage feelings of emptiness.  Madison does whatever she can to feel again, burning her hand, eating a ton of food, and drinking down Cordelia’s potion ingredients, but nothing seems to help.

Queenie wanders through the house, realizing there is nothing to eat now that Madison has finished off everything.  When LaLaurie arrives, Queenie decides to take her to a drive-in, in one of the funnier scenes in the episode (LaLaurie is baffled how the speaker system works, but loves the taste of a cheeseburger!).  As LaLaurie and Queenie chat, we learn that Queenie isn’t really happy at the coven.  LaLaurie agrees she’ll never fit in, due to the fact that she is black.

At night the phone rings, and Cordelia struggles to answer it despite her blindness.  Hank is on the other line, so she hangs up.  We see Hank in his own room, drinking, surrounded by guns with which he plans to assault the coven.  Unfortunately we don’t get to see him follow through on this yet…we’ll have to wait and see in the next episode.  Cordelia then walks through the coven blind, looking for LaLaurie.  When she almost falls down the stairs Madison stops her, and Cordelia immediately gets a visionary glimpse of when Madison has been killed by Fiona; the truth has been revealed.

Fiona, meanwhile, has gone home with the Axeman.  He plays her some jazz and offers her some nice bourbon.  They talk for a while, and Fiona excuses herself to the bathroom.  Once there, however, she notices a clump of her hair falling out.  Oh, and there’s also a dead man in the bathroom (the former owner of the apartment)…no big deal.  When Fiona returns she and the Axeman kiss.  Yet as more of Fiona’s hair falls out, she decides she needs to leave.  However the Axeman continues to woo her (he is like the smoothest jazz), and Fiona finally goes to bed with him while images of the him in the past playing saxophone flash across the screen.

Hey.  Hey guys?  You know what happens if you replace the vowel in the word "sax"?  Guys?
Hey. Hey guys? You know what happens if you replace the vowel in the word “sax”? Guys?

In the coven, Zoe takes Kyle upstairs and unchains him.  Zoe tries to teach Kyle basic words to help him (i.e. “food”, “bed”), but Kyle is still frustrated.  Madison enters the room, eyeing Kyle.  She tells Zoe that Cordelia wants to see her.  When Zoe leaves, Madison moves in to “help” Kyle out.  After all, she and Kyle have both been dead before, so they share each other’s pain…right?

Queenie comes to visit Marie Laveau.  Over a pot of gumbo, Laveau further pushes Queenie about how she is  unwelcome at the white coven, also reminding Queenie what horrible things Madame LaLaurie did to slaves during her life.  If Queenie wants to live with Marie Laveau, she’ll need to bring Madame LaLaurie to Laveau.  Laveau mentions how powerful Queenie could be in their coven, and we can see that Queenie is conflicted about what to do.

Cordelia talks with Zoe, knowing full well how Zoe was able to bring back the Axeman, and also send him away out of the coven.  Zoe is a powerful witch, which means that she has a target on her back.  Zoe thinks Cordelia means Laveau, but really Cordelia means her mother Fiona.  If Fiona were to think Zoe was the next supreme, she might well take out Zoe in the same way she took out Madison.  Realizing she is in danger, Zoe asks Cordelia what the plan is, to which Cordelia replies that they will have to kill Fiona.  Taking this all in, Zoe returns back to Kyle’s room, only to see Kyle banging Madison against the wall.  Well that sure didn’t take long…

In the morning Fiona tries to sneak away, but the Axeman catches her.  Fiona tells him she’s called the police because of the body in the bathtub, but the Axeman calls her bluff.  He finally tells her he’s been watching over her since she was a child.  We flash back to the coven when Fiona was eight years old.  An older bully witch knocks over glasses of milk, causing the younger witches to scream.  Yet when the bully tries to knock over Fiona’s glass, Fiona is powerful enough to prevent it.  The bully tries to make Fiona pour the glass of milk over her head, but little Fiona refuses, splashing the milk at the bully.  The older witch moves in to attack Fiona, when suddenly an entire shelf falls over and crushes her.  It was the Axeman, haunting the place.  Trapped as a spirit in the coven, the Axeman tells Fiona how he saw her as the daughter he never had, but as she grew up he began to lust for her as well and eventually fall in love with her.  Hearing this, Fiona tells him that she doesn’t believe in ghosts (on this show, really?).  Unfortunately for the Axeman, his story did little other than remind her how she has grown old over the years, and angrily she storms out.

Spalding awakens in his room, tied to the bed.  Zoe is there, and asks him how he feels.  Spalding replies, “fine,” only to realize that he is speaking once more…he is no longer mute.  Zoe found his enchanted tongue in a hidden box and reattached it, ready to fulfills Myrtle’s enchantment from years ago.  Zoe interrogates Spalding, and despite his best efforts he blurts out the truth: that Fiona killed Madison.  Having told her the truth, Zoe then stabs Spalding in the chest, and kills him.  Whoa!  Maybe at least record his confession?  Oh well, no going back now…

And to die in such an unflattering outfit too!
And to die in such an unflattering outfit too!

Back at the coven Queenie approaches LaLaurie, asking her about the worst thing she ever did to someone.  LaLaurie doesn’t want to tell Queenie, but Queenie asks her to trust her.  LaLaurie tells Queenie about she killed one of her slave’s babies as a beauty remedy (honestly this isn’t necessarily any worse than other things she’s done, is it?).  However Queenie is horrified to hear this, despite LaLaurie saying how she trusts her as a “true friend.”

In a bathroom in the coven, Fiona notices more of her hair falling out.  She picks up a razor as if to shave it all off, but stops herself.  This scene is totally nail-biting.

Meanwhile, having finished with Spalding, Zoe showers the blood off of herself and puts on a towel.  Madison approaches her, asking if Zoe is OK with her having had sex with Kyle.  Zoe tries to avoid the issue (she does have a toxic vagina, in case you forgot), but Madison keeps pushing the issue.  Madison brings Zoe out into the bedroom, where Kyle sits, calmly, for the first time since his “rebirth.”  Madison and Kyle reach out to Zoe, and Zoe’s towel drops.  Weirdest.  Threesome.  Ever.

At the club, Fiona returns.  The Axeman sees her and approaches.  Perhaps spending her final years with him won’t be so bad after all.

And finally, the naively trusting LaLaurie follows Queenie to a place she’s never been–Laveau’s beauty shop.  Only too late does LaLaurie realize her mistake, as Laveau’s people carry her away into a dungeon of her own.  Locked in a cell, Laveau asks Queenie if she’d like to make the first cuts with some sickle-shaped knives, to which Queenie obliges (harsh).  Moments later we see Laveau painting herself with blood, using the same beauty remedy as LaLaurie did.  The tides have turned.

So there you have it.  Not a bad episode, but hopefully the horror elements will pick up again next week.  Stay tuned!  And read the previous recap here.

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The Author

Daniel Johnson

Daniel Johnson

Daniel Johnson grew up in Santa Barbara, CA. Son of an archaeologist, he spent his childhood years developing a fondness of nature and the outdoors, which was rivaled only for his love of filmmaking and storytelling.
In 2008 he graduated from the University of Southern California's film program, and currently makes a living as an editor in addition to working on his own creative projects.
He has a weakness for redheads, seafood pasta, and dinosaurs.